The intense heat of the ancient Mount Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD resulted in exploded skulls and vaporized bodily fluids, according to a recent paper by Italian archaeologists.
The Mount Vesuvius explosion decimated nearby towns and killed thousands of people. It was long thought that most of the volcano's victims died due to asphyxiation, but it appears that some deaths were more brutal on that fateful day.
Mount Vesuvius Eruption Made Skulls Explode
A recent study that was published in the PLOS One journal revealed that some of the victims of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD died instantaneously due to the extreme heat of the lava that was flowing from the volcano.
The temperatures, according to the researchers, were high enough that skulls exploded and bodily fluids vaporized.
The evidence for the claim came from the archaeological site in Herculaneum, which was submerged in ash and mud after Mount Vesuvius' eruption just like Pompeii. About 140 citizens took shelter in houseboats on the town's beach, where they were spared from the ash avalanche. This meant that their skeletons were preserved in their final death pose.
The researchers found red and black residues on the skulls and bones of the victims, with the residues turning out to contain unusual amounts of iron that suggested the presence of blood. The blood likely came from the body fluids of the victims.
In addition, it was found that ash almost immediately replaced the evaporated brains of the victims. The researchers also believed that ash quickly replaced the flesh in their muscles.
The study suggested that temperatures reached as high as 400 to 500 degrees Celsius, or 750 to 930 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is any consolation, the victims died instantly from the heat, and did not have to suffer from choking on the ash expelled by the eruption.
When Will Mount Vesuvius Explode Again?
Mount Vesuvius is not an ancient wonder though, as the volcano is still active to this day. Alarmingly, it is just 8 miles, or 12 kilometers away from Naples, an Italian city with a population of 3 million.
The estimate for Mount Vesuvius explosions is once every 2,000 years, and its last eruption is 1,999 years ago. That does not mean that Mount Vesuvius will explode within a year, but officials are still preparing in case of a volcanic eruption.